Good morning readers,
out-of-order postscript: RIP stage legend and legendary screen villain Eli Wallach (1915-2014). If you don’t like black-and-white movies, check out his tiny spot in 2010’s “The Ghost Writer,” which happens to be an excellent political thriller in any case.
disordered postscript #2: Monday’s Verse will be on hiatus for a couple weeks while I’m out of the country and away from e-mail.
And now on to the poetry. A friend gave me a book called Best Poems of 1923, edited by Thomas Moult, and it is a curiosity. You have poems in the volume that seem waaay older than 1923, just because the diction is foreign, the rhyme schemes so staid, and the themes so… well, cliched? Maybe cliched is not the right word, but there are way more nature, religious, and love poems than you would ever find in a contemporary anthology, or even in a post-WWII anthology. The great thing, of course, is that the collection is not retrospective; these poems were selected in 1923-4. There are familiar names (Frost, Mansfield, Hardy, H.D.), but many more that I’d call forgotten, although that probably only displays my ignorance.
Take Helen Hoyt (1887-1972), for example. She published several volumes of poetry, worked as an associate editor at Poetry magazine, she was the daughter of a Pennsylvania governor, and she had a niece who was also a poet. Perhaps if we’d been around in the 1920s or 1930s we’d have seen some of her poems or been introduced to other poets through her editing and anthologizing. She has 2 love poems in the 1923 collection, and I dig the mood and genderless point-of-view of this one. -ed.
Drooping were the violets and the roses you had given me;
I carried them against my coat, their heads drooped over.
So we whom love had held against its breast all night,
Whom the city had held against its beating side all day,
Drooped with colors faded, stems without strength.
But very fragrant still were the violets, still dear;
Fragrant and dear the crumpled petals of the roses;
Your darkened eyes, languid hands, dear as before.
We felt no diminution of love, or nearness;
Beautiful and desirable our tired contentment together
As we lingered from street to street to the street of parting.
Precious as any vivid passion our pale quiet.